Owen Lerner, on his annual beach vacation with his wife, twin sons, and teenage daughter, is feeding quarters into a parking meter when he is struck by lightning (“He is white-hot as well as deeply quenched by the singed, syrupy fluid of his surround”). The randomness of the event and the sudden glimpse of mortality throw the Lerner family into a tizzy, and their lovely, sheltered life is suddenly cracked wide open. Will and Ricky, college juniors, are completely waylaid, with Will addicted to pills and casual sex, while Ricky is enmeshed in an unhealthy relationship with his professor and her husband. Meanwhile, younger sister Brooke becomes involved with an abusive boyfriend, and their mother, Toni, feels as if the husband she knows and loves has disappeared, as Owen, once a respected child psychiatrist, becomes obsessed with all things barbecue. Zuravleff (The Bowl Is Already Broken, 2005) is an exuberant writer with a sharp sense of humor, and if Owen’s recovery is a bit too protracted, her satiric jabs (at Whole Foods, among other targets) and joyful wordplay offer plenty to savor. --Joanne Wilkinson
“Above all, this is a family novel for smart people; the smarter you are, the better you’ll like "Man Alive!" by Washington writer Mary Kay Zuravleff . . . What makes this book so terrific? Certainly the lofty reach of its subject matter and its cleverly delivered information about mythology, robotics, etc. But mostly, it’s Zuravleff’s masterful use of language, particularly dialogue. Each character cries out to us, demanding attention, recognition. A whole family, not just the burned, bruised Dr. Lerner, demands to be seen as human beings — alive!
” —Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“A lightning bolt to a parking meter certainly packs a punch, but so does every sentence and scene of this exuberant novel. Mary Kay Zuravleff writes so well—with such wit and compassion and wry intelligence—that she can make the daily, domestic life that follows Owen Lerner’s encounter with the transcendent as electrifying as the lightning strike itself. A suburban marriage, a young romance, gymnastics, brain chemistry, backyard barbeque, wherever Zuravleff aims her keen eye, something transformative happens, the way a thunderbolt turns sand to glass. Man Alive!
is vividly alive and breathing. A sparkling book.” —Alice McDermott, National Book Award-winning author of Charming Billy
“Random happens, as Mary Kay Zuravleff ably demonstrates in this witty and engaging novel about a psychiatrist struck by lightning. Man Alive!
chronicles the tensions and resentments that pull a family apart in the wake of a freak accident, and the lingering affections and connections that ultimately keep them together.” —Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers
and Little Children
“There's nothing like a lightning strike to make you reasses your life, as Owen Lerner and his wife and kids learn the up-close-and-personal way. Novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff dissects family life with great heart and rapier wit.” —Parade
“The scenes and dialogue jump off the pages of this novel. Man Alive!
is electric.” —Huffington Post
“[Zuravleff] captures both the humor and pain of family life and the fluid nature of its alliances.” —Library Journal
“A compelling story, beautifully written, about a family faced with a crisis, given a strikingly original spin by a gifted novelist.” —Shelf Awareness
“Zuravleff (The Bowl Is Already Broken), recipient of the American Academy's Rosenthal Award and the James Jones First Novel Award, creates a family whose members are forced to come to terms with mortality, reality, love, and their place in the family structure. She captures both the humor and pain of family life and the fluid nature of its alliances. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“Man Alive! is all pleasure, even as the Lerner family suffers acutely. Mary Kay Zuravleff’s novel delivers the particular pleasure of the thing perfectly described. This is a book to share, reading sentences aloud to marvel at—how’d she come up with that! How does she know so much! How can she be so funny, and then so poignant, one, two, punch. The Lerner family is a family to remember—and to raise a glass to every time you grill outdoors—cheers to the amazing and fabulous Owen Lerner, and to his creator.” —Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World
“I really like these people and I want to go to a barbecue at their house. This is a novel of equal parts wit and heart, edge and deep warmth, hands open with hope for humanity alongside a firm foot still in reality. A terrific treat.” —Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and An Invisible Sign
“Man Alive! is a vibrant book, and complex, buzzing with the rhythm of life the way we live it. Mary Kay Zuravleff is masterful as she dissects the collective consciousness of a family, with all its tangled bonds and arbitrary isolation.” —Carolyn Parkhurst, author of The Dogs of Babel